World Autism Awareness Week runs from March 26 to April 2 and the North East Autism Society is working with the region’s schools to educate pupils and staff about how autistic pupils can be supported in the classroom.

The society has arranged a range of classroom activities to engage youngsters in an awareness programme and a host of schools have signed up.

Chief Executive, John Phillipson said:

It is vital that an understanding of autism begins as early as possible, so getting schools engaged is a priority for us. We are really pleased with the level of interest this has generated and immensely grateful to those schools which have signed up.

Schools Autism Awareness Week

The participating schools include: Sugar Hill Primary School, Newton Aycliffe; St Joseph’s Primary School, Coundon; Firthmoor Primary School, Darlington; Gurney Pease Primary School, Darlington; Glynwood Community Primary School, Gateshead;  Fellgate Primary School, Jarrow; Newbottle Primary School, Houghton-le-Spring; Consett Junior School; New Hartley First School, Whitley Bay; and Hylton Red House Nursery School, Sunderland.

Each of the schools taking part receives an education and fundraising pack and most of the schools have chosen to take part in “Bad Hair Days”, with pupils invited to spike or colour their hair, or wear a funny wig, in return for making a donation to the charity.

Bad Hair Day

Sugar Hill Primary is staging a “Blue Day” in which children will come dressed in blue, Gurney Pease is having a non-uniform day, and Hylton Red House School has won a visit from North East Autism Society mascot, Pawsum the Panda, by holding a sponsored toddle.

Katy Gregory, Special Needs Co-ordinator at Hylton Red House Nursery School, said:

We made the decision to get involved because we wanted to raise awareness of autism. We’ve had quite a few families coming through our nursery school over the years who’ve been undergoing a diagnosis or received a diagnosis of autism, and we are just here to support those families in any way we can.

We also really want to raise awareness of the North East Autism Society so that all of our parents know the society exists and what it does for them. We also want to raise funding to support the society with anything they offer to our parents.

There is still time for more schools to take part by registering at [email protected] and request a schools pack. 

Meanwhile, a “Walk For Autism” event is taking place from 10am on April 13, at Herrington Country Park in Sunderland. The walk is over one mile and registration costs £5 per adult, with free entry for children under 15. The event features music from DJ Jordy, an egg hunt with chocolate treats, and a chance to meet Pawsum the Panda.

To register for the walk, go to or call our fundraising team 0191 410 9974